Sunday, December 31, 2017

day no. 14,314: not good without God

Psalm 16
I have nothing good apart from God. That is something on which to meditate. Whatever I may have, it is not good without God. With God, whatever I have is good.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

day no. 14,313: our faith doesn't save us

"it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

One of Satan's best deceptions is convincing us to focus on ourselves. Our faith is too small, our hope is too wavering, and our deeds are too few. Of course, our Accuser is correct in these assertions. Our faith is too small and our hope is too weak and wavering. But no one is saved by achieving perfect faith or steadfast hope. It is our weak faith in a strong Jesus that saves. It is our stumbling hope in a striding Jesus that comes through every time. Satan's best deception is taking the focus off of Jesus and on to ourselves. Whatever we conclude, "I'm failing," or "I'm succeeding," Satan wins because our glance is turned inward to our self instead outward and upward to Jesus. We are not saved by turning inward, we are saved by what Jesus did outside of us. He lived. He died. He was buried. He rose again. He ascended to the Father's right hand. That reality that took place outside of me and had nothing to do with me has invaded me, has breached the perimeter of my defenses and changed this enemy into His friend, this outsider into His fold, this sinner into His saint. That is what He has done and our focus must be on that. Jesus saves. Our faith doesn't save us. It connects us to the One who saves. Our hope doesn't deliver us. It connects us to our Deliverer. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

day no. 14,312: you don't pray this way

Psalm 17
To beg God for justice is to assume you are on justice's side. If you are living in open rebellion. you don't pray this way. This is the prayer of someone who knows God, loves Him and is doing their best to obey Him. But this prayer shows that even when you live like that, you still have trouble. Life isn't rainbows and butterflies because you're doing what you're supposed to do. A godly life is one of constant dependence on God.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

day no. 14,311: aunts and uncles and blisters and sneezes

Exodus 6:26-27
These are the Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said: “Bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt by their hosts.” 27 It was they who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the people of Israel from Egypt, this Moses and this Aaron.

This is an historical event. Moses and Aaron are not characters who serve as placeholders as "types" of people, they were real people with real moms and dads. They had aunts and uncles and blisters and sneezes. The names and dates have not been changed to protect the identities of those involved. These are the people, this was the time, anchored in real time history. These are not fables with moral lessons to be learned, this is history with divine revelation to be believed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

day no. 14,310: we are our response

Exodus 6:4-9
I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’” 9 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

Take a moment to take in the number of "I will's" in this dialogue. This is indicative. This is God saying what He is going to do. This is promise and prophecy. There is nothing for us to do, but to listen. The imperative comes after hearing in the form of, "believe it! bet your life and livelihood on it." That is the command. God is going to do something. You better believe it. But they didn't because their spirits were broken by the harshness of their situation. They couldn't muster enough hope to imagine a life any different than the one they had. And yet their unbelief did not keep God from doing what He said He was going to do. His action and follow through is not contingent upon our belief. Indicatives don't care how you feel about them. They are true whether or not you like them, love them, hear them, or them. They are what they are. But we are our response to them.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

day no. 14,309: ever increasing intimacy

Exodus 6:2
God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them."

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all knew the Lord, but Moses was the first to know Him by Name. The trajectory of revelation is ever increasing intimacy. From heaven to earth, from mystery to revelation, from vague to specific, from spirit to body, from dwelling in a tent to dwelling in us.

Monday, December 25, 2017

day no. 14,308 continued... inward and upward

Psalm 15
Who can live with God? Who can keep up with Him? That person must walk blamelessly, speak truth in his heart and out of his mouth, honor the Lord at all times and in all ways, keep a promise even when it doesn't turn out the way he'd hoped, give money without expecting a return, and judge rightly regardless of relation to the parties. This kind of person can live with God up high on His hill. Only that type of person can breathe that kind of air and survive. Every other set of lungs will burst or shrink under that kind of pressure. One can die there, but one cannot live there. This standard is unbending and eternal. This is the measure of the man who gets to live with God. And so those who accurately acknowledge this standard are left with despair when they look inward and faith when they look upward saying, "If I am to be saved, He must save me. I cannot save myself. Please God make a way for me. If You don't, I can't. Help!!!"

day no. 14,308: the zeal of the Lord of hosts has done this

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and His Name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Zeal accompanied incarnation.  High became low on purpose and the lifted up came down impassioned.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

day no. 14,307: treated well by wicked men

Exodus 5:21-23
…and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” 22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”

We demonstrate the weakness of our faith by our desire to be liked and treated well by wicked men over our desire to be identified with the One those men oppose. We would rather share in the favor of a wicked king than share the suffering of the one, true King. We'd rather experience health, wealth and prosperity as our wages for serving sin than sickness, poverty and death as grace for standing with the Son.  

Saturday, December 23, 2017

day no. 14,306: a pharaohble

Exodus 5:9
"Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”

Works righteousness is a god that never rests, never bargains, never stops. It demands. It is relentless. If you take a moment to express that you find your burden too heavy to endure it, it will only increase the load reasoning that if you can find the time to complain, you can find the time to do more. Pharaoh is the epitome of self-righteousness: a self-made, self-proclaimed god who is unable to tolerate the weakness of his servants. He demands strength and provides nothing. He requires devotion and administers lashes. He expects worship and excavates exasperation out of his most loyal subjects. There is no rest in his brand of righteousness. He is the spirit of the anti-Christ.

Friday, December 22, 2017

day no. 14,305: you will do what God wants... eventually

Exodus 5:2
But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

Who is Yahweh that I should listen to him? That was Pharaoh's question and that is the question before us. Who is Yahweh? Is He God? Is He the only God? Why does He get a say in what I do? Why should I rearrange my plans in response to His commands?

Do you know God? If you do, it follows that you will do what He says. If you don't know Him, it makes sense that you don't listen to Him. Pharaoh was about to meet Yahweh, the one true God. And he would eventually do what God desired. He would let God's people go. But only after God used a strong arm of persuasion to convince him. It was, however, not to Pharaoh's credit, but to God's glory that he eventually relented.

How will your story end? You will do what God wants....eventually. Will it be for His glory and your good? It will be to His glory... whether or not it is for your good.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

day no. 14,304: wise unto salvation

Psalm 14
There is not a single one of us who God sees and says, "Well done, good and faithful servant." The salvation of Israel will come out of Zion. He will understand. He will do good. He will seek God. He will hear, "This is My Son with Whom I am well pleased." He will restore to us what we forfeited. He will make new what we have darkened. He will make fools wise unto salvation by grace through faith in Him alone.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

day no. 14,303: the indicative proclaimed and the imperative commanded

Exodus 4:31
And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

Israel heard what God had done and what He was planning to do. They received the news and believed it. And having believed, they bowed and worshiped. The indicative was proclaimed and the imperative commanded. The drama was retold, the doctrine believed, doxology followed and discipleship now was to be done.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

day no. 14,302: the family before the congregation

Exodus 4:24
At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death.

Moses was embarking on a mission aimed at calling Israel out of Egypt, but Moses' sons remained uncircumcised. Moses had earlier in life identified with Israel in the public sphere by striking out against injustice, but had failed to follow through in the private sphere by raising his sons in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. How could Moses lead a nation to follow Yahweh, when his own household was out of order? God here insists that Moses' family be in order before he steps out to lead the congregation and it serves as a warning to any who would desire to lead God's people without first leading his own family.

Monday, December 18, 2017

day no. 14,301: the end proclaimed at the beginning

Exodus 4:21-23
And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’"

Again, we see God calling His shots before the drama ensues. Before Moses steps foot back in Egypt it is already determined by God that Pharaoh will resist and that the life of the firstborn son is at stake.  Pharaoh will know from the onset where this is all headed so that he has no one to blame but himself by the end of this when he buries his firstborn son. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

day no. 14,300: our responsibilities remain ours

Exodus 4:15
You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do

God's solution is not to send someone else as Moses suggested in vs. 13. He mercifully provides a friend, a brother to stand by Moses' side and promises to equip him also to embolden Moses. But Moses is being called to go. Aaron is being called in order to assist Moses, to encourage Moses, but Moses is going. God may call others to help us do what He has called us to, but He doesn't place our responsibilities on to them. They remain ours. But we receive help from God to carry them out.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

day no. 14,299: we is more loved than me

I recently listened through a series of conference talks by Doug Wilson on "The Fooleries of Preaching." There were 4 talks total and after the last one there was a brief Q & A session (click HERE)

In response to a question about private consumption of sermons via YouTube, Vimeo, Podcast, etc… versus corporate participation in breathing the same air as the preacher, Pastor Wilson, made reference to Psalm 87:2.

Psalm 87:2
The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.

God loves the communal gathering of His people MORE than the individual, private times of devotion. This isn't at all to poo poo private, devotional seeking of the Lord, but rather to emphasize that corporate worship is loved MORE by God than private. I think we assume the opposite. We find this Word from the Lord surprising. We would have expected it to be the other way around. Clearly the collected gathering is strengthened by the integrity of its individual member's private commitment and faith, but there is something peculiar and particular about meeting together as a body that brings delight to God that cannot be produced by individual consumption of spirituality. There are some things that can only be done in private, like praying before the Lord as Jesus commands in His sermon on the mount. But we are more loved by God than me. And that is hard to get your head around in an individualistic, privatized religious milieu like ours.

for more on Psalm 87 from Pastor Wilson, click HERE.

Friday, December 15, 2017

day no. 14,298: the next available excuse

Exodus 4:13
But Moses said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

Finally, the heart of the matter is exposed. It wasn't that Moses needed the power of a sign in order to feel equipped or that he needed the eloquence of speech in order to feel empowered, it was the fact that underneath all of it, he didn't want to. Isn't that how it is? You don't want to do something, but you don't want to say that you don't want to do something, so you make a convenient excuse that allows you to not do the thing you didn't want to do without looking like the kind of person who didn't want to do it. Until you meet someone who is for you and helps remove the excuse you used. Then you scramble for the next available excuse and again that person skillfully and lovingly addresses it. So all you are left with if you insist on pushing back is the cold, hard, underlying truth, "I don't want to!" 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

day no. 14,297: the Bible is more than just a book, but it is not less

My wife sent me this Jen Wilkin quote the other day,

"…the Bible is more than just a book, but it is not less... We don’t get to approach the Bible or any other book according to our whim. Books yield their treasures to those who search earnestly for the meaning the author has placed there."

Amen, sister. Much of Biblical illiteracy is a product of being illiterate in general - not that most people don't know how to read words, but that most people don't know how to read a book.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

day no. 14,296 continued... no one should be over until they are under

those who are under authority will be given authority. 

Matthew 8:9 "For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it."

When the Roman Centurion wanted to give proof that he was a man under authority, he pointed to examples of people being under his authority. One man goes because he says, "Go," while another comes because he says, "Come." These initially seem like peculiar examples of being "under" authority. But don't miss the principle that the Centurion assumes. He believed that those who have authority must be under authority. Or said another way, those who desire to be in authority, must themselves first be under authority.

Do not be hasty in giving authority to those who are clamoring for it. Do not feel hard pressed to create opportunities for those who insist they're gifted at leading others. Rather, look for those who have faithfully placed themselves under authority and look for ways to give them a platform to produce more of the same downstream.

In other words, no one should be over until they are under.

The faith of the Centurion is believing that those who humble themselves will be exalted and that those who exalt themselves will be humbled. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Place your faith in Jesus and find your place under His authority.  

day no. 14,296: the law of hell is bait and switch; the rule of heaven is wait and see

Psalm 13
Asking, seeking and knocking are far more difficult than ask, seek and knock. That pesky "ing" makes it a process and like all things in process, it can be hard to wait while wondering, "How long is this going to take?!?!?!" It is hard to say, "Please," more than once. It tests your commitment to the request and your trust of the one you're asking. So David reminds himself in this moment of what has been true in the past: "I trust in Your steadfast love." I will not doubt it now. I will not doubt in the dark what I have seen in the light. I will sing for all that I have already received and trust the best is yet to come. The rule of hell is bait and switch: the best wine at the beginning and the bad stuff once you're drunk. The rule of heaven is wait and see: the best wine is yet to be served!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

day no. 14,295: the power to pull it off and the dependability to follow through

Exodus 3:21-22
"And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

God here again calls His shots and says, "check the math!" It will all come to pass and I'm telling you ahead of time so that when your pockets are full of Egyptian gold, you remember: God is Almighty and keeps His promises. He cannot be thwarted. If He says something will happen, nothing can prevent it from happening since He possesses the power to pull it off and the dependability to follow through with it. Believe and see... then see and believe.

"Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe." – St. Augustine

Monday, December 11, 2017

day no. 14,294: he will because I will make him

Exodus 3:19-20
"But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go."

Pharaoh will not say, "Uncle" until I've broken his arm. He won't let you go unless I make Him. And trust Me, I will make him do what I desire. I will insert My will and it will be done.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

day no. 14,293: He is Who He says He is

Exodus 3:13-14
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

The Name of the Lord is YHWH. He is the great I AM. He is self-existent, depending upon no other person and no other thing in order to be. He just is. He is what He is and always will be. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and does not change. I AM said, "You go." We ought to believe Who He is and do what He says because we first believe He is Who He says He is.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

day no. 14,292: everything by then will be different

Exodus 3:12
“But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

God's sign to Moses remains in an unclaimed future. Your feet will again stand on this mountain. But by that time, they will have walked back to Egypt, gathered My people and walked out of Egypt. These same naked feet you look down at today will then have sandals caked with the dust of Egypt and the bottom of the sea on them the next time you stand here. 

This is your sign: you will be here again, but everything by then will be different... and I will remain the same!

Friday, December 8, 2017

day no. 14,291: it all depends on what mood you're in

Exodus 3:10
"Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Up to this point the sermon is indicative. God has done something, is doing something, sees something and has a plan. This is all in the indicative mood, reporting news about God that must be believed. But the charge doesn't come until verse 10 when He switches to the imperative mood by saying, "Come." Believe what I have said up until now and now act like you believe. A person who believes what I have said will act this way and thus demonstrate their belief. The imperative always follows the indicative - by necessity and in that order... always!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

day no. 14,290: the low will be raised, the proud will be razed

Psalm 12
Those who attempt to carve out safety from the tapestry of life with their own scissors will be themselves cut off. There is no way to seek safety for yourself without stepping on the toes of your fellow man. This is not merely ignoring other people, but taking advantage of them for your benefit. But the Lord sees the plunder of the poor and groan of the needy and will rise to their defense. Those who need defending have a Defender. Those who groan find satisfaction. Those who are robbed find treasure. Those who long for safety will be protected, while those who have manufactured safety will be in grave danger. The low will be raised, the proud will be razed. God's words and His people both are refined by fire and tested by tribulation. 

"God had one Son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering." - St. Augustine

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

day no .14,289: and God knew

Exodus 2:23-25
23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

God did not forget His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and suddenly remember it like I did this past year on Father's Day. I totally forgot to get my dad a Father's Day card as I usually do. I forgot and then I remembered, but it was already afternoon on Father's Day. It was too late to remember and have it mean the same thing. God did not forget His standing appointment with Israel. God knew. The whole time, He knew. It wasn't too late although it surely felt like a long time coming from Israel's perspective. It does make me wonder if perhaps it was Israel who had forgotten. Perhaps this was the first time in centuries that they had collectively turned their hearts heavenward in seeking a Savior.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

day no. 14,288: happy birthday, Atticus!!!

Today my oldest child, my oldest son, Atticus Jacob Rhyne Van Voorst, turns 9 years old. You are a quiet man. You like spending time by yourself, building with legos and reading about World War II. You aspire to fight for your faith as a preacher and your country as a solider. You are a fantastic older brother. You love your siblings and lead them by your example. You are a great servant. You do your chores well and you often take the initiative in looking for ways to serve others. You are a joy to be around and make everything better. You love Jesus and read your Bible. You care about what is true and desire to make things right. You are a good man and you are growing increasingly good at being a man. I am grateful to God that I get to be your dad. Happy Birthday, son! I am proud of you.

Monday, December 4, 2017

day no. 14,287: suffering or sumptuousness?

Exodus 2:11-15
One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well.

Moses chose to identify himself with the suffering of slaves rather than the sufficiency of sumptuousness. He deliberately stepped out from under the luxury of licentiousness and joined the abuse of the abject. Moses was stirred to do something. He knew enough to know that something ought to be done and that if he didn't, no one else would. So he acted. He defended the poor, the abused and abased. He used his strength to defend the weak. He did check to see if anyone was looking, but either overlooked someone or assumed the ones he saw were on his team. Moses was astonished to discover later those he had rescued tattled on him, their deliverer. Perhaps this trial run as rescuer is what later led to his sheepishness in accepting God's commission. Perhaps not. But either way, he made a move in boldness only to be met with ingratitude and treason. And it would be to these very ungrateful, treasonous people that God would call him to deliver on a much grander scale as we shall soon see.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

day no. 14,286: God above, trouble below

Psalm 11
The primary thing we see here is the struggle between watching the world go to hell in a hand basket while remaining people who have optimistic hope in the God of their crumbling world. The temptation is to say, "What's the use?" I can relate to this sentiment. Sometimes it seems like no one cares. It seems helpless and hopeless to wish for anything different. David's response is to focus on God above rather than trouble below. He doesn't pretend things aren't bad or try to downplay or undersell the difficulties of living in a world that is struggling to free itself from its leash. He doesn't act like things aren't so bad. He doesn't find the good in things. He finds the good in God. His hope is there. His confidence is not that everything has some good in it, but that nothing good can come without God.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

day no. 14,285: fear and love

Exodus 1:17, 20-21
But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live... God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

Midwives for the win! The midwives acted differently than Egypt. Egypt's self-interest and fear of the future led them to ruthlessly abuse people who had done nothing to them. The midwives' selflessness and fear of God led them to mercifully rescue people who owed them nothing. And God blessed the midwives and gave to them children of their own. Because they were faithful with the children of others, God provided them children of their own. Those who fear God and love people are seen by God. He notices.

Friday, December 1, 2017

day no. 14,284: ruthless

Exodus 1:12-14
But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

Israel never gave Egypt any indication that they were preparing to go rogue. They gave no hint of revolt. But the fretful imaginations of Egypt propelled them to treat Israel harshly. Egypt loved itself and was scared of what might happen to them IF Israel ever acted as their suspicions suggested. So they proactively abused those who had done nothing wrong. They oppressed and ruthlessly treated Israel according to their imagined crimes. They enslaved them in order to protect themselves. They imagined that IF Israel revolted and joined a foreign attack; they would become the slaves of others. So they enslaved Israel. They did to Israel what they feared would happen to them. They struck first to avoid the strike they feared. Egypt was so motivated by self-interest that they did to innocent peoples what they feared would happen to them. This is how we act when principle is ignored in place of personal prosperity. This is how the fear of being abused transforms the worrier into an abuser of others. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

day no. 14,283: the wicked do not wrestle with reality

Psalm 10
The ancients were not immune to the age old questions of, "why are bad things happening to good people if God is just?" and "why are good things happening to bad people if God is just?" concluding, "is God even good?" or "does God even exist?"

The wicked do not wrestle with the reality of God. They don't spend time contemplating His goodness or His justice. They boldly live in confidence that He is not real and that they have nothing to fear. They simply flex their indifference to their advantage and see it panning out time after time for their benefit. When the Pharisees wanted the praise of men, they got it. They received the reward they wanted. So it is here with the wicked.

The psalmist here reminds himself that God's patience should not be mistaken as weakness or indifference. While the wick may take a while to burn, rest assured there is a stick of dynamite waiting at the end of it. The saying goes that a watched pot never boils. Do not get such tunnel vision as to stare at the spark and forget to see down the line the stack of explosives that are waiting. Run it out and you will see the end of the wicked.

A Day is coming and is nearer with each passing day when the wicked will no longer be able to comfort themselves with thoughts of God being a myth. That same Day will provide the oppressed and fatherless with vindication and they will no longer be waiting patiently, but celebrating enthusiastically. Faith will become sight and the oppressed will be victorious. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

day no. 14,282: faith is believing God

Genesis 50:24-26
And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

While compiling a list of faithful acts of faithful men, the author of Hebrews when considering Joseph, thinks of this.

Hebrews 11:22
By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

Joseph believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

day no. 14,281: the King counseling his usurpers

Genesis 50:19-21
Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Joseph comforted them. 

Take a moment to consider the audacity of that sentence. Joseph is easing the guilt of those who abused him. In similar fashion, Jesus is a source of comfort for the ones who caused Him excruciating pain. Jesus eases the guilt of those broken by their treason against Him. He is the King counseling his usurpers. He is the Judge caring for the criminals. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

day no. 14,280: forty days of freaking out

Genesis 50:3
Forty days were required for it, for that is how many are required for embalming.

40 is typically a number in the Bible associated with testing. I can imagine for the 10 sons of Israel (sans Benjamin) these 40 days were filled with sorrow over the loss of their father and apprehension wondering what Joseph might do to them once he was through mourning.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

day no. 14,279: let them see their limitations

Psalm 9
This song begins with declarative statements suggesting a proper application. In other words, David begins at the end. He starts by saying what he is going to do in light of what he is about to say.

He then transitions from himself as the subject who is doing things to objective truths about God. God is a King who rules well. God is a Judge who judges rightly. He demonstrates this by rebuking the bad behavior of the wicked and blotting out the names of those who oppose Him. He is trusted by those who truly know Him because He is inherently trustworthy.

David for a moment is caught up in just declaring true things about God so much so that in vs. 11 he takes a break to say, "Are you guys hearing this? Am I the only one excited about this? Shout it from the rooftops! Go tell it on the mountain. Sing to Him loudly so that all can hear Who He is and what He's done!

David lastly transitions to asking God for grace. Having defined Who we're dealing with, David begins to deal with Him and asks God to look down upon His servant and send help. He asks this King, this Judge, to stand up and do something. Rise up, God. Flex Your godliness on my behalf. Put the fear of God into those who oppose me for in opposing me, they oppose You. Jesus knocked Saul off his horse and told him that his violence against Christians was warfare with God Himself. David asks God to remind the nations that they are but men. This stands as a fantastically simple, yet profoundly supernatural prayer. May men come to their senses and recognize what is true. Let them see their limitations and be humbled.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

day no. 14,278: royal blood

Genesis 49:10
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

In this blessing we see more detail concerning the serpent crusher. He will be a descendant of Judah, He will be a king to whom tribute will be given and He will be an authority over all peoples. Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah, the King of all kings to whom tribute was given by the wise men who visited Him and every knee in Heaven and on earth will bow before Him alone.

Friday, November 24, 2017

day no. 14,277: turned to my station

Psalm 8
This song is book-ended by the exclamation, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth!" We end where we began with giving God all of the credit and all of the glory for everything.

When we observe the natural splendor of our created world, it should move our hearts to childlike wonder. As we grow older we often lose our capacity for awe and abandon. Here, David calls us to consider the expansive power and glory of an endless sky filled with numberless stars all fixed like nails where they have been hung. In light of all of this, who am I? How does God have time to consider me when He could just as easily sit back and enjoy the show before Him? Cascading waterfalls that never run out of water; planets endlessly spinning and orbiting in a precise, beautiful waltz; claps of thunder and strikes of lightning, etc… With all of that to watch, why would God turn His television to my station?

One can seemingly draw one of two conclusions from this. Either I am very important or God is. That is why we end where we began. David's conclusion in considering these facts is that God must be exceedingly great if He pays attention to little ol' me. Instead of an elevated sense of self-worth, David is led to an elevated sense of God's glory. God's name is worthy of all praise as evidenced by His attention to detail, even a humble data point like myself.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

day no. 14,276: our part in history

Genesis 48:15-16
“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on,
and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”

God has placed in man a desire to see his name go on. As men made in His image, we desire to see a legacy expanding and stretching out over history in which we played a significant part. And a man's story is grafted into the story, if his ties return to God. In this way, we enter into a story larger than ourselves, longer than our progeny.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

day no. 14,275: no one plays the lottery unless everyone is playing the lottery

Have you ever noticed that no one plays the lottery unless everyone is playing the lottery? You can go years without even remembering that there is a lottery, but once the jackpot crosses a certain threshold it is all you hear about. Then everyone you know is buying a ticket because, "ya know, why not?" Most people do not play the lottery until most people are playing the lottery.

And so it seems also that most people who would call themselves Christians do not buy into broad cultural shifts unless everyone is buying into them. If we are not renewed in our minds, we ebb and flow with the tides. We are no more immune to throwing down $10 on a one in a trillion chance of winning $500 million than we are to buying into gender confusion and abortion culture IF we are not anchored to anything deeper.

Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

day no. 14,274: slippery when whet

Psalm 7
As much as David's flesh was in danger, his soul was also. The lion's claws were aiming deeper than his dermis. They were threatening to tear his heart and soul to shreds. It is a vulnerable/spectacular place to be when you can say in clean conscience like Job, "I did not do anything in this particular situation to deserve this. If I have, show me my error. I will repent. I will gladly lay down my arms if I am, in fact, in the wrong. But if I'm right, Lord, stand up now and fight! Bring hell, fire and brimstone. Bring fury and wrath and rage. I stand opposed to those who will not be opposed by You, God. Those who will not stand down when faced with their sin, those who pursue me without questioning their motives as I have asked You to reveal mine.

God feels indignation every day. That is a stunning thought. God cannot be deaf or blind. He hears every cry produced by persecuted people. He hears every injustice. He sees it all. He peers into the hearts and minds of those who delight in wickedness. He cannot turn away. All is before Him. And He patiently burns with rage as He restrains His fury for the day the dam breaks and the deluge of fire bursts forth to purify and refine. God whets His sword. It may surprise some to discover God has a sword. It may shock even more to find out He is sharpening it so that it delivers more deadly blows. Those who live by the sword will die by the sword of the Lord. Vengeance is His and while for the moment we see merciful calm, rest assured a torrent of violence is growing increasingly just behind the curtain of history's end.

Monday, November 20, 2017

day no. 14,273: livestock and land

Genesis 47:25
And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.”

It is a natural response for a man whose life has been saved to feel inclined to live indebted to the one who saved him. We see here that Joseph's (a la Pharaoh) wisdom has saved the lives of his subjects. While it cost them their livestock and land, what are possessions if one loses their life? In light of being saved, they beg to become bondservants, living in gratitude and service for the lives they will continue to possess. How much more should we who have been saved by Jesus Christ -- the better Joseph, the better Pharaoh -- earnestly seek opportunity to gladly and gratefully lay down our lives and livelihoods, our livestock and land, in order to serve and bring honor and glory to Him?

Sunday, November 19, 2017

day no. 14,272: unless they are hard pressed

Psalm 6
The word endure or persevere used in Scripture literally means, "remain under." It is being under fire, in the moment, in the trial, and remaining faithful to God. Few things prove to be more difficult than remaining under. Almost every instinct we possess pushes us to find a way to get out from under whatever is pressing in on us. But grapes do not produce wine unless they are pressed hard.

Here the Psalmist wrestles with nearly every common question a believer might ask while they remain under pressure: is this angry rebuke, is it loving discipline, it this going on longer than it needs to be, is this what life is now, is there any end in sight, can You hear me, Lord? etc…

But the Psalmist is sustained by God and even in the midst of all these questions and the continued pressure of remaining under great difficulty, a statement of faith and trust is produced: I know You hear me and I trust You will deliver me.  I know the mouths of those who mock will be stopped by the grace and strength of the Lord. I know. Even while everything else would say differently, I know. I believe. That is faith. That is perseverance. That is remaining under the grace of the Spirit of God while enduring under pressure.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

day no. 14,271: the main character?

Genesis 46:28
He had sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to show the way before him in Goshen, and they came into the land of Goshen.

As much as can be and has been said of Joseph, as much has been overlooked of Judah. The last 1/4 of Genesis makes clear the main character is not merely Joseph, but Judah, from whom the Messiah would share lineage. Go back and read the "Joseph" narrative and you will find Judah, by name, appearing steadily.

Friday, November 17, 2017

day no. 14,270: all of Israel out of Egypt

Genesis 46:27
And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

Not a single person belonging to the family of Israel was left behind. Everyone went to Egypt. Going forward, anyone who looks back at Israel as the source of their namesake will have a heritage interwoven with Egypt. Years later, God will draw another Joseph to carry His Son to Egypt in order to protect Him from destruction in Israel and then call Him back out of Egypt to deliver His people from their bondage.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

day no. 14,269: far away by contrast, close by compassion

Psalm 5
Lord, You hear everything. Nothing escapes Your attention. No sound goes unheard, no sight goes unseen. In the midst of all You have on Your plate today, please consider my situation. Please don't let my voice be swallowed up or drowned out. You are not just the King of all kings and God of all gods, you are my King and my God. This is the God to Whom I lift my voice this morning. A God Who can hear me; a God far away by contrast, but close by compassion; a God above anything, but involved in everything; a God mighty to save and merciful to rescue.

Just as my hope of deliverance is found in Your all seeing eye, so my assurance that justice will be given to those who defy You is also found in the fact of Your seeing it. You know the flatterer's heart, You see the liar's intentions. You see and You know. I can rest assured in my safety and my enemies' destruction.

No one is safe without You. 
Everyone with You is safe. 
And You know the difference.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

day no. 14,268: God knows and that's enough for me

Psalm 4
God, it's me again. You've heard me before. Hear me again today. I am in trouble. Please help! It feels like no one else gets it and that no one else understands. I feel all alone. Everyone else seems to have it all together even though they live in sin while I feel like I'm falling apart even though I'm living for You.

God is setting me apart. He is consecrating me, making me holy, like Him, altogether different than everything else around me. I know He hears His suffering servants' cry for justice and justification.

I find myself becoming upset when I consider how few follow God and it's the right response. But it is enough for me to know that God knows. I don't have to defend myself and scrap and claw to look like I'm right. I know I'm right because I'm following God and He's always right.

Lots of people want God to bless them, but few people actually want God. Even when they get what they think they want like money, fame, power, a good buzz, an orgasm, popularity, etc… I know I have something better. Everything comes to an end… eventually. Except the One Who has no beginning. He alone endures forever and all those who place their trust in Him will have all eternity to consider themselves wise.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

day no. 14,267: another everyday miracle

Things like sleep, as simple and as assumed as they are for our day to day lives speak loudly to our need to be sustained and kept. we cannot keep ourselves. we must sleep. If we resist, we go crazy or we die. We have to lay down, shut our eyes and let whatever happens to us happen. We must. It is the design of God and there is no getting around it. The fact that we so reliably wake up more often than not is amazing and another everyday miracle we take for granted. We get sick, we get better. we go to bed, we wake up. we get cut, we heal. we get sore, we get stronger. We close our eyes and open them again and the world is still there, as if it depended not on us at all and was quite content with or without us.... and yet we're invited to enter in and be MORE involved and interested by this simple, understated fact of normal, everyday life.

Monday, November 13, 2017

day no. 14,266: baptism 5k

5,000 days ago today I was baptized at Cornerstone Church of Ames by Pastor Tom Nesbitt. I have experienced new challenges and old problems, but have seen God faithfully producing His will in me and through me. Grateful for Good News that only gets better daily.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

day no. 14,265: God never sleeps

Psalm 3
The accusation is either that David is too bad to be saved OR that David's God is too weak to save anyone and either way, everywhere David looks or listens, he hears the pessimistic prophecies of those who wish him the worst. They hope he is beyond saving in particular or that His God is incapable of saving in general.

Yet David insists that God is his shield and shelter. He takes refuge in the God they all say is too holy to notice David or too impotent to rescue him. David raises his cry and aims it like an archer at the throne of heaven. He directs his pleas to the holy city where God alone makes His residence. David expects God to be there, where the holy things are AND he expects God to hear him, even there. David expects his cries to be heard and heeded by a holy and gracious God.

David is a man who can only run so far until he needs to rest. And God allows His saints to find rest in their races. He expects them to be found running and resting, sustained by His strength. Awake and watching, yet sleeping and resting. Nothing is more vulnerable than being asleep. You are protected in that dangerous place by Him. God does not protect His saints by keeping them beyond the reach of needing sleep, He allows them to rest knowing that their God never sleeps.

David fully expects God to wreck His enemies. David has so aligned himself with God that his enemies are God's enemies and vice versa. David delights in the destruction of the unrepentant wicked and the deliverance of the repentant sinner.

The saint will feast forever at the wedding supper of the Lamb while the wicked will have their teeth broken from their jaws. Saints will chew on a feast of meat while sinners will gnash on their just desserts.

If anyone can save, it's God. If anyone will be saved, it will be by God. If salvation is possible, it will be brought to pass by God. If salvation is offered, it will be a gift, a blessing, an undeserved, unmerited, merciful, gracious work of the Lord Almighty.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

day no. 14,264: a land of everlasting and exhaustive joy

Genesis 45:20
Have no concern for your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.

We are called to similar pilgrimage. Where we are going has everything we could ever need. Why waste time dilly dallying with trinkets and toys when a land of everlasting and exhaustive joy awaits? Why hinder your arrival by dragging heavy, burdensome baggage? Leave your hurts, your shame, your achievement, your trophies, and anything else that would keep your feet from sprinting for a glorious home awaits those who run the race set before them.

Friday, November 10, 2017

day no. 14,263: but he knew them

Genesis 45:3-5
And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. 4 So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life."

Joseph appeared to his brothers. He had been in their midst but they did not recognize him. But he knew them. And he chose to reveal himself to them. This revelation produced shock and sheepish back stepping to which Joseph replied, "Come near, please." 

One day another son of God would be treated shamefully in order to save his brothers. He too would walk among them, back from dead, without their knowledge until He revealed Himself to them. They didn't recognize Him, but He knew them. And even after all that had been done against Him, He chose to reveal Himself to His sinful brothers -- just like Joseph - a type and shadow of the Christ who would come.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

day no. 14,262: the pot shaking its formed fists

Psalm 2
Why do nations rage and why do people push back against Heaven so violently? Because Heaven has opinions about how things are going on earth and we often see those as mean-spirited, restrictive shackles designed to keep us from self-actualizing. At its worst, it is a spirit that would dare proclaim that God is hamstringing us because He is worried that we may overtake Him if we were allowed to reach our full potential. Perhaps we would be King of the hill and He'd be out of a gig.

But vs. 4 makes it clear, that God is not shaken by these empty threats. In fact, He laughs. The ridiculousness of the pot shaking its formed fists at the Potter is more than enough to produce a chuckle. But His romp quickly transforms into rage when He opens His mouth to shout, "The earth is mine and whoever I make its King is truly King indeed!!! My Son will inherit the world and all will bow before Him, either in fearful expectation of death for treason or joyful expectation of living under His rule. He is a living safety for those who worship Him and a death sentence for those who war with Him."

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

day no. 14,261: under the heat of the Son

Psalm 1
The blessed man is first defined by what he doesn't do. He doesn't orient his life around worldly advice, he doesn't anchor his aspirations around his sinful inclinations, and he doesn't find rest in his ability to poke holes in whatever he is being told to do.

Rather, he is defined by his delight in the Law of the Lord. He orients his days, anchors his heart and finds security in something outside himself, something permanent, unshakable, indomitable: the Law of the living Lord and he dedicates his mind to mulling it over day and night and all the time in between. He has developed the habit of seeing and interpreting the world through the lens of the Creator's wisdom.

Now that we know what he does, the Psalmist transitions to explaining what he is like. When a man lives this way, it looks like something. In this case, a faithful, sturdy tree rooted near streams of living water that allow it to thrive and produce fruit that serves as a blessing to others. It is not shriveling up, it is maturing in sturdiness.

Just to be clear, the Psalmist wants to clarify that the man who does all of things that the man of God does not do (see vs. 1) looks like something.  In this case, it looks like chaff that the wind drives away. It has not root and it produces no fruit. It is tossed to and fro by the winds of change without any landmarks to secure its place.

In the end, the rootless will die under the heat of the Son while the faithful will survive and use His rays to produce fruit for His glory, the good of everyone else and the glorification of the tree.